Out in August from Knockabout is a full length graphic novel, Scotland Yardie, by Bobby Joseph with art by Joseph Samuels, featuring the character who sprang to fame (or should that be infamy?) in the pages of the 1990s indie title Skank Magazine – now itself revived online at www.skank1.com.
With institutionalised racism at an all-time high, the Metropolitan Police embark on their yearly drive to recruit more ethnic people in the police force. With little or, no success they bring over Jamaica’s most feared policeman – Scotland Yardie, a ganja smoking, no-nonsense bad bwoy cop who breaks all the rules to enforce his own harsh sense of justice. But what happens when cultures clash? Can the average criminal handle the street-wise Jamaican Lethal Weapon rolling through downtown Brixton? Will south London ever be the same again?
With his reluctant partner P.C Ackee-Saltfish, Scotland Yardie embarks on an adventure that deals with the disappearing drug trade in Brixton, corruption, the death of innocent people at the hands of racist cops, assassinated cats, immigration fears, and the emergence of the addictive blue chicken!
Written by the voice of urban UK comic books, Bobby Joseph, Scotland Yardie is one of the creators of the cult, comic classics Skank Magazine and its controversial 2001 sequel, Black Eye. Bobby – whose work was featured in last year’s British Library exhibition – has written satirical pieces for vice.com, Loaded Magazine, The Voice newspaper, BBC1’s Lenny in Pieces and Radio 4. He is credited on the BBC website as instrumental in featuring some of the “first comics by black creators featuring black characters.”
Scotland Yardie is illustrated by Joseph Samuels, credited as one of the most popular comic artists to grace the pages of Skank Magazine and Black Eye. He is the co-creator of the popular “Afro Kid” comic strip on vice.com.
Skank magazine was the first adult comic to controversially explore the Black British experience. It pushed the boundaries of taste but also explored political satire, racism and police brutality through comic strips, photo strips, joke articles, and celebrity references. With its cutting edge humour, those behind the title say it went on to be regarded as the ‘voice of the youth’ and created a new genre in UK black publishing as it was the first black satirical magazine.
Started in 1994, Skank Magazine was the result of a conversation between Bobby and Dotun Adebayo, publisher of Yardie – Victor Headley’s debut novel and the first black British bestseller – and the founder of X-Press, the publishing company that sent 200 bullets to members of the press to help promote Headley’s follow-up.
“Dotun was looking at the kind of stuff that Viz did, had seen some of the characters I was doing and suggested I do my own take on it,” Bobby told vice.com back in 2014. That take turned out to be satirising the Caribbean communities in Lewisham and Hackney that Joseph and his team of artists had grown up in. Characters included hyper-aggy Jamaican policeman “Scotland Yardie” (“Most man’s worst nightmare – a yardie wid a badge”) – now revived – and “Rachel Prejudice”, who only dated white guys and bought “Latoya Jackson skin lightening cream” from the “BNP chemist”.
“We had quite a bit of backlash over stereotyping people; this was in the early-90s, when there was still a fair amount of racial tension in London,” Bobby told vice.com. “But I think the people who were angry with us didn’t see that we were turning those stereotypes on their heads and finding the humour in them. Some elements were our own personal quirks, but we had the ability to laugh at them.”
The magazine was brought to an abrupt end in 1997 after athlete Linford Christie sued the magazine for implying in a strip he was taking steroids. “He didn’t like that,” Bobby explained. “Our publishing costs had already risen by that point, and after he sued us we had to shut the comic down.”
The revival of Scotland Yardie is just the start of a new comics projects from Bobby, as he recently revealed in conversation with comic artists Joseph Samuels, Daniel Francis and Randolph Hoyte here on YouTube. Their plans include a new superhero team – where all is not as it seems!
• More about Skank Magazine at www.skank1.com